Livestock Management in the Canary Islands


The positive association between the management of livestock and conservation of biodiversity remains unclear in the oceanic islands. In the susceptible island’s ecosystems, introduced herbivores supposedly cause disastrous effects on vegetation and are responsible for the degradation of the ecosystem, overgrazing and the loss of biodiversity. Keen researchers propose the eradication of these introduced herbivorous animals as the most effective means of attaining sustainable conservation measure in some islands. However, this action requires careful consideration since there exists established ecological interactions between the introduced species and native animals in those ecosystems, which are highly complex. This paper will concentrate on livestock management for biodiversity conservation, with attention on the Canary Islands of Spain, with reference on previous works. Much of the research is mainly in the area. However, consistent results will assist significantly in the in-depth understanding of the case and the grazing impact on these islands.


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There are ongoing efforts all over the world to ensure there are sound conservation measures for biodiversity in the ecosystems where livestock farming is a complicated activity. In many places, the effects of grazing animals on species composition and richness attract conflicting views and stands (Olff & Ritchie, 1998).  Researchers argue that herbivores have both negative and positive influence on other species within their ecological occupation. In other cases, some researchers hold the opinion that such animals may sometimes have no impact on biodiversity. (Osem et al., 2002; Casado et al., 2004). Others even argue that livestock has little or impact on soil composition of the ecosystem (Bakker et al.; Peco  et al., 2006).

For sustainability of the Canary Islands’ livestock productivity, there is the inevitable need to have a comprehensive analysis of the impact of grazing on all ecological processes including degeneration, biomass production and biodiversity. Livestock management is a crucial activity of the Canary Islands; this makes livestock management highly necessary for the socio-economic and ecological balance of the Canarian Ecosystem (Brinkmann et al., 2009).

Materials and Methods

As a measure of ensuring credibility and reliability of this research, a number items and procedures came in handy. Books on ecology and conservation offered the most valuable information that guided the documentation of this work, with regard to the understanding of biodiversity and their environmental impact. There was use of a number of online resources in accessing useful academic journals that have crucial information, relevant to this study. The general approach to this research is a qualitative research, relying mostly on available information sources. There was no use of experiments since most of the research already exists in the form literature reviews that other researchers have conducted in the past.


There are species of introduced herbivores in the Canary Islands’ ecological systems. As a result, grazing is one of the critical activities with remarkable influence on the region’s ecosystem (Bermejo, 2003). It is also noteworthy that goat-grazing in the Canary Islands has government recognition as both traditional and substantial economic activity of the people (Cabrera, 2001). There are intensive and extensive grazing systems in the Canary Islands, each of them having varying degree of impact on the ecosystem. Essentially, grazing is the activity which poses the greatest concern on the Canary livestock management and biodiversity conservation stakeholders.


Livestock rearing is a significant part of the Canary Islands, people’s economy. There is a need to ensure there are adequate measures in place for sustainability of the people’s traditional and chief economic activity. The use of modern grazing methods of extensive and intensive, if controlled, offers an opportunity of utilizing available grazing lands by the people. With the presence of both introduced and native species of livestock, there are implications to the general existence of biodiversity within that ecological ecosystem and the productivity of livestock within the area (Coblentz, 1978). This calls for effective conservation approaches for livestock, especially the people’s invaluable feral goats. There are proposals from different researchers and livestock experts for the eradication of introduced species of species (Milchunas & Lauenroth, 1993). However, in spite of the few benefits such a move may have on the ecosystem and indigenous biodiversity, there may be serious demerits on livestock productivity because livestock management is a vital economic undertaking of the Canary Islands. Grazing of the feral goats also has a massive effect on the ecosystem of the Canary Islands.


There is a dire need for modern and effective approaches towards livestock management in the Canary Islands. Conservation of biodiversity is essential for sound ecological balance for the safe existence of people and productive livestock rearing in the region. The stakeholders ought to take into account the benefits of introduced species in the area and find ways of accommodating them alongside native species (Bermejo, 2003). Rigorous research is necessary in the area to determine the pertinent issues in respect of livestock keeping activity. This would be indispensable in identifying conservation measures that do not interfere with the people’s economic stability. Livestock management is fundamental both for the people’s livelihood and safety of the environment-the ecosystem.